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Review: So bad they’re good in ‘The Bad Guys’

“The Bad Guys” is a family-friendly, computer-animated comedy about a group of animals who have been stereotyped as “bad guys” based largely on their species. But Mr. Wolf, Mr. Snake, Mr. Piranha, Mr. Shark and Ms. Tarantula are attempting to put their criminal past behind them.

"The Bad Guys" movie poster
"The Bad Guys" is a new computer-animated comedy starring the voices of Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Awkwafina, Craig Robinson, Anthony Ramos, Richard Ayoade, Zazie Beetz, Alex Borstein and Lilly Singh. The crime caper is produced by DreamWorks Animation and is based on the children's book series of the same name.
Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch
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BAXTER — George Clooney has got nothing on Mr. Wolf.

The animated anthropomorphic canine suavely and cunningly leads a cast of similar unsavory crime-committing characters in the new computer-animated comedy “The Bad Guys.”

The notorious Mr. Wolf and his thieving crew — Mr. Snake, Mr. Piranha, Mr. Shark and Ms. Tarantula — delight in making off with the big score and thumbing their noses at the cops.

“We may be bad but we’re so good at,” Mr. Wolf tells the audience in a fourth-wall-breaking aside during a police pursuit that introduces the principal characters in the feature film.

The five have a public reputation of being villains, not to mention predators — “remorseless sociopaths,” as an apparently good Samaritan guinea pig bluntly tells the motley crew.

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“We were never given a chance to be anything more than criminals. But these are the cards we've been dealt, so we might as well play them,” Wolf explains.

Mr. Snake cracks safes, Ms. Tarantula is a computer hacker, Mr. Piranha is brave and crazy, and Mr. Shark is a master of disguise.

“His greatest trick? Stealing the Mona Lisa … disguised AS the Mona Lisa,” Mr. Shark says by way of introduction.

Oscar-winner Sam Rockwell provides the voice for Mr. Wolf and manages to be charismatic and cool as a 2D cartoon character.

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“If only we were given the chance to be anything more than criminals,” Mr. Wolf dares Gov. Diane Foxington, a red fox voiced by Zazie Beetz.

Foxington initially resists Wolf’s blatant attempt at reverse psychology as he’s being led away in handcuffs to the police paddy wagon by a singularly-obsessive, hot-tempered human police chief played by Alex Borstein.

“If you want to stay out of jail, you need to go good,” Professor Rupert Marmalade IV tells Wolf, before the latter is ordered to be released by the dumb-founded, exasperated police chief.

The guinea pig philanthropist Marmalade comically attempts to reform the bad guys after they are caught in the PG-rated motion picture. The outlaws become model citizens … or do they?

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“We’re going to pretend to go good. The bad guys become the good guys so we can stay the bad guys — see what I’m saying?” Wolf explains to his locked-up crew during a private moment.

Will Mr. Wolf, Mr. Snake, Mr. Piranha, Mr. Shark and Ms. Tarantula stay on the path of the righteous or will they find the temptation too great to resort to their criminal ways?

The family-friendly film playing at Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter and Sunset Cinema in Jenkins is produced by DreamWorks Animation and is based on the children's book series of the same name by Aaron Blabey.

Blabey is the creator of two other best-selling children's series: “Pig the Pug,” a picture book series about a rude, selfish, mean-spirited little dog; and “Thelma the Unicorn,” a second picture book series about a plain little pony who pretends to be a unicorn.

Frank Lee
Frank Lee

“The Bad Guys” currently holds an 86% approval rating among critics and a 93% approval rating among audiences at Rotten Tomatoes, a review-aggregation website for film and television.

The RottenTomatoes.com critics consensus reads: “Fast-paced, funny, and full of colorful visual appeal, ‘The Bad Guys’ is good news for audiences seeking options the whole family can enjoy.”

FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at frank.lee@brainerddispatch.com . Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bdfilmforum .

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I cover arts and entertainment, and write feature stories, for the Brainerd Dispatch newspaper. As a professional journalist with years of experience, I have won awards for my fact-based reporting. And my articles have also appeared in other publications, including USA Today. 📰
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